Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why I'm Inked

If you know me, you know I’m not normal. Not in the strange, she should be locked up for her own protection, not normal. But I’m atypical. I’ve been described this way since...oh, pretty much birth. Well, I was reminded yet again not too long ago about how “not normal” I am. I got my tongue pierced at the beginning of October, after some pretty serious emotional issues between my love and me, and my mother found out about it a week or two later. And she said “Why can’t you just be like a normal person? Why do you have to go and stick metal in you and inject ink into your skin?!”

Well, the piercing thing I didn’t mind too much, because, although several of my piercings mean “something” to me, several of them are just, “Hey this looks good, and I want it.” Like my tongue. Sort of. I have to be in the right state to go get something pierced, so there’s that aspect of it, but piercings are sort of hit and miss with me.

Tattoos, however, are not. I am proud to say that I have seven tattoos, and am awaiting an eighth. Each of them has a very special meaning and represents a really important part of my life. Really quickly, I will run through them for you, starting with the first, and ending with the most recent.

1. Butterfly on a heart, with words “gone from my life, not from my heart.” I got this tattoo when I was just 17 years old and headed off to college. When I was graduating 8th grade, both of my grandparents on my mom’s side died within six months of each other. My grandfather literally died the night of my 8th grade graduation. I was close to them, and so I got this tattoo four years later, in memory of them. It also symbolizes people that I went to school with that I would (never or rarely) see again; they were out of my life, but their memories still live on in my heart.

2. Music note (treble clef). I’ve been singing since forever, and took voice lessons for about 6.5 years. I loved every minute of it. Although I don’t sing in a choir anymore, music is part of my life on a nearly daily basis, and can often calm me down and/or cheer me up.

3. Sparrow. I got this tattoo with my friend, Amy. Its inspiration comes from the lyrics “Like two sparrows in a hurricane, trying to find their way. Life says they’ll never make it, love says they will.” Though seemingly love-song-y, this pretty much described my life up until that point. I was working and (basically, with the help of some grants and loans) putting myself through college. I depended on my friends a LOT to get me through the first year or two of college, and Amy was one of my best friends when I started college. She already had a year of college under her belt, so she was able to offer some great advice and to just lend an ear when I needed a listener.

4. Shakespeare quote “This above all, to thine own self be true.” When I showed my mom this tattoo, she said, “Lana, only you would be nerdy enough to get Shakespeare permanently written on your body!” Although the context of this quote is believed by most critics to be very superficial, I interpret the quote on a much deeper level. I got this tattoo half way through my education major, when a lot of people were dropping out or deciding that school wasn’t for them; I also had certain family members telling me not to pursue a career in education. I wanted to be true to myself. I love to help others, and I love teaching kids how to do new things (or reminding them how to do old things, ha ha ha). I wanted to have a constant reminder to do what I believe is best for me, and to take advice in stride, because ultimately what I do with my short life has to be my own.

5. Quote: “Love me when I’m gone.” I got this literally right after a pseudo-breakup with a guy I was not “technically” dating, but whom I totally loved. I didn’t get it because of that, though. The previous semester, I had some serious tests run and found out there’s a good chance that I might not live as long as the rest of you fuckers. ;) After realizing how short life is, even when you DO live the entire thing, I started experiencing a really heavy dose of sentimentality, and more than anything, I want to be remembered when I’m gone. In other words, I want to make a difference.

6. A big black bug bit a big black bear and the big black bear bled blood. RIP Poppy. <3

7. My atheist tattoo. This is my most recent, and possibly my favorite tattoo. I got it just above my heart, on the “front” of my left shoulder/chest. There are no words, just a universal symbol for atheism. It’s the most noticeable tattoo I have (yet), especially when I’m wearing a shirt with a more open neck. I love telling people that it stands for atheism. My atheist tendencies show that I am rooted in logic and rationality. It shows my life for science, evidence, and experimentation. It shows that I don’t believe everything I hear, and I am skeptical about a lot of things. Most of all, I like this because it can (though doesn’t as often as I’d like it to) spark a conversation between myself and other atheists. Most of the time, people who believe in a higher power either lecture me or give me a VERY disapproving look. Oi vey.

I don’t believe in getting “meaningless” tattoos - as you can see, all of mine have pretty extensive meanings behind them (even if it does just look like a bird! etc). When people come to me for advice about tattoos (yes, that actually happens!), I tell them several things: 1. make sure it means something. 2. Don’t just decide on something and go and get it done. I had an “idea” for my Poppy tattoo for about a month, and then changed my mind. I tend to say something like “think about it for six months,” or “think about it for the same amount of time it would take before you told your significant other you love them,” or something like that. (Or, think about it for the same amount of time your car can go without an oil change, or for an entire season, etc etc.) I can honestly say that I don’t regret any of my tattoos - why? Because they’re all well thought out, well done, and still hold meaning in my life. And it’s okay - not every tattoo will represent people or things that will remain that important in your life. But getting tattooed is like using your body as your scrapbook. It helps you remember people, things, ideas, and feelings that you’ve experienced. So, ink on, folks. Ink on.

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